We recently held our Retail Rocks event, with retail leaders from the likes of Aldi, Clarks, Halfords, HSBC and Microsoft. This is one of our insight pieces following the event.

    You only have to think of fast-growing businesses like Uber, Deliveroo, Made.com and ASOS to realise the influence changing customer expectations are having on the retail industry.

    These days, customers are demanding what they want and when they want it. And as many of our experts predicted at Retail Rocks: if businesses can’t adapt to this changing environment, many will fail. Here are some of the themes from the day.

    We want it now

    Matt Beathe and Adam Philips from Halfords talked about how 90% of the UK’s population is just 20 minutes away from a Halfords store. But that according to their research, this still wasn’t convenient enough for some. Their research also showed that younger people are willing to pay extra for convenient mobile fitting services. They said there’d been a switch from DIY to “DIFM – Do It For Me”.

    Microsoft’s Digital Transformation Lead, Yatty Wu, talked about L’Oréal’s latest app, which allows people to see what they look like wearing L’Oréal make up – considering skin tone, contouring and lighting – before allowing you to purchase there and then. The app completely bypasses retailers, but it’s super convenient.

    We seek experiences when we buy

    “Retailers need to become savvier about retail experiences on the high street,” said Yatty Wu.

    Ben Fletcher, a leader at Clarks shoes, followed this by declaring, “I’m an optimist about retail. But there are tonnes of retailers who haven’t got the memo about Armageddon. If you walk around London for the day, you’ll see them…

    “If you want to see the integration of digital and physical, go to the LEGO store. If you want to see true retail theatre, spend a day in Selfridges in December.

    “What’s killing the high street is boredom and timidity. Retailers with boring propositions, who don’t have a point of view, with colleagues who don’t know how to deliver service.”

    It needs to be easy for people

    Colin Creagh from Klarna, the online purchases company which is all about “smoooth” payments (with three o’s), said, “Ten years ago the average attention span for someone browsing on their mobile was 12 seconds. Now it’s six seconds. On a mobile, you’ve got just a few seconds to grip people. It needs to be easy.”

    Colin also talked about the 68% of consumers who abandon their online shopping carts. This costs retailers around the world roughly $4 trillion each year.

    Jonathan James, Owner of James Convenience Retail, finished with, “If what we’re doing is inconvenient then we’re not really being ‘convenient’. These days the ease of doing something is so important. Most millennials are turning to self-check-outs.

    “But retail remains a wonderful thing. What other industry opens its doors every day to its competitors to say, ‘Come and have a look at what we’re doing’?”


    CAT KELLY, Head of Retail and Relationship Partner

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